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Disclaimer: Unless otherwise stated in writing, these materials are for your own usage only and you

shall not, without the prior written consent of, disseminate or disclose these materials,
whether in original or duplicate form, to any third party.

Its all about Work Experience.

By Daryl Wong

Here are two job advertisements that you probably have seen at before. Would you apply for these jobs?

ABC Company Sdn Bhd

Distributor of machine
Position Title: HR Assistant
Job Requirement

Candidate must possess at least a Primary/Secondary

School/SPM/"O" Level, Higher Secondary/STPM/"A" Level/Pre-U,
Diploma or Advanced/Higher/Graduate Diploma, Degree
1-2 years relevant working experience.

Able to work independently.

ABC Company Sdn Bhd

Mobile Services
Position Title: Customer Service Executive
Job Requirement

Pleasant personality and disposition.

Good communication skills.
Fresh graduates/Entry level applicants are encouraged to apply.

Ill bet most of you will say no. But if you do say yes, let me ask you this
question. Do you think you will have a promising career with this
company? Most likely you will answer no.

How come? Well, it is obvious, isnt it?

1. No clear information about what the company does.
2. Incomplete description as to what the job does or requires.
3. Too general a description the company does not seem to be too
ambitious about the type of people they are looking for.

Im sure youll find more reasons not to apply for this job and we do
understand the frustration you have with such advertisements. These
advertisements do not give the impression that they offer a high quality
job or company even though it may not be entirely true.
If you are feeling the frustration, then I can honestly tell you that
employers face the same frustrations when reading some of your
resumes. They, too, feel that it is a total waste of time that such
candidates even bother to apply for the job in the first place. They too find
the applicants resume irrelevant, too general and just does not instill a
perception of a high performing employee.
We conducted a survey recently in an effort to revamp our system, and we
asked the employer what the main point are in a typical resume that they
use primarily to evaluate an applicant on whether they are fit for the job
they advertised. We did this across a few countries in Asia and
consistently, the main point they all focus on is the Work Experience
section in a resume.
That is pretty obvious, right? Work Experience is the section where one
can know what your past experiences are and whether the employer
wants that kind of work or skill you have demonstrated previously.
If that is so, why do we keep getting appalling written work experience
sections when we review hundreds of jobseeker resumes during our
Career Talk and Resume Clinics?
Lets make this crystal clear. If you are not getting enough or any
interviews, even though you have applied to a lot of is because
your resume is not getting the attention it deserves and the main culprit is
the Work Experience section.
Just like the job advertisements
descriptions are either:





1. Too short We have seen some resumes where the work experience
section covers only 10% of the resume, which does not tell us what the

jobseeker actually does. It also gives the impression that they really are
not playing an important role in the organizations that they have worked

2. Too long The longest resume I have ever reviewed was a 20-page
resume, double sided! One work experience description on average
covers almost 2 pages. Who would bother to read all of them? Trying
to find information within this resume to identify key skills and
experience was a major task. And inconsistent formats and styles do
not help either. Your resume is not your autobiography, so it isnt
essential to include a complete inventory of your work experience
and state everything youve done. It also makes it difficult for us to
understand what your main role is and what you are really good at.

3. Too general - This reads the same as the hundreds of resume that
we have read. I often say if your work experience description can
be easily copied and pasted by somebody else to be used to
describe them too, you can forget about getting that interview call.
Just like the example above, how many advertisements have you
seen with such content? There is nothing unique about it at all!

Key to a Good Work Experience Write-up

Its all about perception!
If you are not getting any calls for interviews, even though you have
applied for hundreds of jobs, its undoubtedly due to your resume lacking the
power and significantly underselling your abilities and experience.
While you may actually be a very good fit for the roles to which you have
applied, chances are that your resume doesnt instill that perception in the 15-20
seconds that those charged with screening resumes typically spend per
How does one create the perception? First off, what do all employers look for in a
candidate, regardless of the position? They are always looking for candidates
that can demonstrate or proof one or more of the following:
1. Made the company money: What specific projects or work efforts have
you completed that directly increased the bottom line?
2. Saved the company money: Have you developed ways to trim
production costs or perform certain tasks more efficiently?
3. Improved operations and made things run more smoothly: Have
you changed office operations, improved employee morale and retention,
or increased productivity?

4. Gone "above and beyond" the call of duty: Have you delivered
superior performance on a special project or had sustained performance
over a period of time?
These are common needs in any organization. So, how do you demonstrate or
create the perception that you have this experience? You can start by using
some Convincing Factors.

Convincing Factors
One of the most common mistake jobseeker makes when writing the work
experience is that they list down what they do in their role, what their
main duties are and describe the day to day task. However, this only
tells the employer what your do and does not sell your capability and
Who would want to hire you immediately if you describe yourself doing
the following?

Perform any ad-hoc task

Provide support to the team whenever needed

Assist customers for their needs on buying computer equipments

Nobody is interested in what you do every day. What they want to know is
what all these duties are for? What are you trying to achieve for the
company? What tools or skill do you use to achieve this? Who do you work
with, or work for? How important are those tasks for the company?
The following elements can and should be used within any resume point
to make it stronger and more convincing.

Results/ Accomplishments/Achievements - Employers want resultoriented employees, so you need to find a way to list every significant
result or achievement you have. Your resume should include performancerelated references.

Quantify results - the language of businesses is dollars, so use numbers

to demonstrate the impact of your accomplishments to the organization. It
can be a key differentiator.

Highest ever-individual sales performance in South Asia Pacific.

Developed Management Operating System (MOS) for managing

operation effectively resulting in 20% increase in productivity.

Skills used - never mention a task or accomplishment without

highlighting the management, technical or people skills required to
accomplish it. Do not list all skills involve but the key skills that the jobs
you are applying are looking for. Usually, you can get an idea what it is
through the job advertisement

Flaunt the importance of your work - exhibit that you do high-quality

important work that the organization relies upon you for and that you
deliver it consistently.

Tools to highlight: CRM, time management, process reengineering,

fish bone analysis, mind map.

Worked with or report to key people - If you have worked for or with a
famous or high-level individual, highlight them. This clearly demonstrates
that you play among the big boys and it will clearly position yourself to
be an important individual for the company.

Assembled and led a team responsible for developing a plan to

expand scope of services provided, overcoming resource
limitations, personality conflicts, and communication breakdowns to
successfully present the case to the executive committee.

Tools used - Demonstrate that you are not only a doer but a smart doer
using whatever tools you have or that you learn and acquire those tools to
assist your work.

Awarded High Achiever (top sales in the Asia regional) for three
years in a row.

Leadership - you do not necessarily have to be a manager to

demonstrate your leadership. Mention cases where you led a team or
project, even if informally. Highlight challenges addressed and leadership
methods used.

Formulated a pricing analysis model to set the pricing for all new
product launches in the Asia region.

Awards and Recognition - mention all recognitions received for

outstanding work. Include awards received both in school and on the job.
One cautious note. Dont assume that people know what the award is all
about. Explain the meaning of the award and its significance.

Used root cause analysis to accurately identify and pull all key
stakeholders to brainstorm and resolve critical performance gap in
the system.

Nominated by the CEO to led and developed the customer

satisfaction index and report back to the Board of Directors.

Problem identification and solving skills - if you have an experience

where you were able to identify a problem or have excellent problem
solving skills, highlight them as these are attributes that all employers
want. State how serious the problem that you have identified or how much
the company benefited from you solving the problem.

Major company names - if any time in your career that you work with,
partner with, consult, vendor or supplier to the names of well-known and
respectable companies, make sure you list it down. This will give the
reader a sense of prestige to the work you have done.

Uncover serious operational gap that may led to serious key

customer complaints. Proposed and implemented an out-of-the-box
solution to resolve the gap and potentially avoid a RM1M loss in

Successfully launched the new product in Malaysia and sold the

solution to major accounts like Ericsson Mobile, Motorola, Celcom,
Maxis, Western Digital and Matsushita.

Global perspective and Cultural diversity - having knowledge of other

markets outside your local country is a well sought-after skill. It also shows
that you have the flexibility and capability to work with people from
different cultures.

Responsible for developing, localizing and launching new products

to the Asia Pacific and Japan region. Worked with each country
distributor to achieve the revenue growth of 110%.

How much is too much?

Many times, when the above was suggested to the jobseeker, it is certain
the following question will be asked:

Do I have to go to such detail?

Isnt it bragging?

Then, my resume will be very long; it will be like 10 pages. Is it


Let me address the bragging part first. If there is any time in your life you
feel you have the right to brag, the resume is the time. How else are you
going to show to a reader who have never met you, know what you have
done or what you can bring to the table? It is an accomplishment and it
will only sound like bragging if you dont own it. Have you ever met
someone who is full of confidence and know exactly what he is talking
about? And Im sure you have also met people who like to brag. How are
you able to differentiate between the two? The difference between a
bragger and a confident person is not what they say, but how they say it.
You know that the person who brags is only doing so to make himself feel
good, but the person who has the confidence is saying it because he dont
mind sharing his background and accomplishment around. Be that person.

Your resume is there to share with anyone who is reading it, who wants to
know who you really are and what you are capable of. Remember, its a
matter of how you say it, rather than what you say, that makes you a
person who is confident or a bragger.
Yes, it is true that using the above convincing factors might result in you
having a 10-page resume, depending on your years of experience. And no,
that is not the right approach. Nobody will spend the time to read a long
resume. So how do you tackle this?
The decision to leave something out from your resume is just as important
as deciding what to put in. Are you all confused now? OK, lets try this
approach. Many jobseekers write a standard resume covering all aspects
of what he/she does and hope that the resume is applicable for all jobs
that he/she applies for. However, every single job out there is unique and
your experience is vast. What you have been doing is to create a one size
fit all approach but this approach rarely works and it might reduce your
chances of securing an interview.
Remember, I said that the resume is all about perception. Many
professionals now are required to multitask and have multiple
responsibilities. You may have experience from multiple aspects of
marketing, operations, sales, etc. But how do you want others to perceive
you? Do you want to be someone who has excellent selling skills and the
ability to build a rapport with your client? Or you want others to see you
as a manager with excellent leadership and problem solving skills? Maybe
you want others to know what particular and unique skill you have, be it
technical or non-technical?
Once you have decided on this, align your work experience description to
that. Anything that does not fall into that, leave it out even though you
may have some good accomplishment. Trying to cover so many aspects
will confuse the reader as to what you are really good at and the
perception you are trying to sell may get lost amongst all the rest of the
things you are trying to cover.
Still confused? Ok, let me share a story with you to make it clear. I once
met a jobseeker who has been trying to get into a more senior position.
Though she has extensive experience, she was frustrated that she was not
able to secure any interview for the senior jobs that she applied to. When I
study her resume, it was so obvious. Her work experience section covers
her daily task and the IT projects she has handled before. Though it was
good, but it does not give me a perception of her being a senior manager,
in fact, a worker is what I get from her resume.
Together, we improved her resume. Since she wants a senior manager
position, she has to find out what a senior manager does. Mainly, they
manage people. We studied her past experiences to see whether she has
managed people before, and how big was the team she managed? It does

not matter whether it is an official responsibility or during a project, as

long she proves that she is capable of managing people and getting the
job done. Other than that, senior managers manage through numbers and
setting KPIs. Again, her resume should be describing her accomplishment
by numbers and KPIs so that others know that she has experience in
managing by numbers. All the words and descriptions used in the resume
need to sound like what a senior manager does, and any other senior
hiring manager who read her resume will go: This is what I do too and
these are the things Im facing day to day. We made sure all these were
covered in each of her work experience and highlighted them clearly. I
wont go through all the stuff we did but I hope you get what I mean.
Other than deciding how you want others to perceive you, another
method is to align yourself to the job you applied to. Always go back to
your target job that you wish to get and ask yourself what attributes does
this job require? And if you have those attributes, they should be the main
theme in your resume. And all your past work experience will align to it.
How do you know these attributes? Easy, study the job advertisement and
the job descriptions. Many jobseekers do not bother to read the job
description that the company advertises. This is by far, the biggest
mistake. There is a wrong misconception about the concept of applying for
a job. Many think it is about submitting their resume for the potential
employer to review to see whether they are fit for the job or not. And that
is wrong. Its about answering the job advertisement and aligning yourself
through your resume to what they are looking for.

What about Fresh Graduate?

So what happens if you are a fresh graduate and do not have much
working experience? How do you position yourself?
Whatever little work experience you may have, you should put it in, be it a
part time job, freelance work, internships, vacation job, working for your
family.anything! Employers just want to know whether you have been
exposed to the working world. You can still use the convincing factors
suggested above to help you to write a good work experience.
We have part-timers that we hired during our Career Fair and they ask me
how to write a good work experience description about what they did
during the fair.

Part-time in 2010 Career Fair, participated by 200

companies, attended by 200,000 professionals.

By describing like this, you highlighted that it was, a

company that is well-known. The numbers give the reader a sense of the
size of the event and with the size; it gives the reader an idea about the
complexity of your job.

My role as a part-timer is to assist the jobseeker to identify their

dream job and to guide them to the companies that have similar
positions that they can apply to on the spot.

This description allows the reader to know how important your job is even
though it may be on a part-time basis.
What if you do not have much or no working experience? Then, you can
use your Extra-Curricular activities and describe them as though they
were your jobs. If you hold a position of any association during your
student days, you can describe what you did as though its a real job and
use the above convincing factors.

Final Thoughts
I do hope that this will give you some ideas on how to sell yourself via
your resume. I know that not everybody is born or trained to be a
salesman but this is how the world of recruitment works. Its not always
the best man getting the job but how others perceive you. I have seen
too many jobseekers failing to get that interview not because they are not
fit for the job, but because their resumes failed to fit the job requirements.

Disclaimer: Unless otherwise stated in writing, these materials are for your own usage only and you
shall not, without the prior written consent of, disseminate or disclose these materials,
whether in original or duplicate form, to any third party.